With all of the tragedy, injustice, crime, and mistreatment going on in the world, I was hard pressed to choose one topic to write about regarding social justice, since I’m passionate about many. One matter that immediately came to mind, that I think is often overlooked, is one that brings together many issues I am passionate about putting an end to: rape culture, torture of living beings, climate change, and the epidemic of malnutrition-related health issues sweeping our nation. The issue I’m speaking of is that of our animal agriculture industry. Now, your immediate thought when reading that sentence might be “but how does my eating meat or dairy have anything to do with rape culture, torture of living beings, climate change, or health issues?” or some thought to that affect. Well, I’m here to tell you why this single industry is the cause of millions of social injustices every day.
Environment: Factory farming is the number 1 contributor to climate change. Huh? I bet you thought the biggest contributor was cars or planes or trains. In fact, our animal agriculture industry has a bigger carbon footprint than all forms transportation combined. 51% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced from animal agriculture alone. 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) are released into our atmosphere per year solely from livestock and their byproducts. How is this so? Well, you probably didn’t know this but cows produce 150 billions gallons of methane per day, and 2,500 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of beef. To give you an even better sense of how we’re wasting our planet’s resources with animal farming:
477 gallons of water are required to produce just one pound of eggs, and almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1 pound of cheese.
We’re taking up 45% of the earth’s total land for livestock, when we could be designating that land for growing plants for human consumption – a better use of land and resources. Learn more about how our animal agriculture industry’s devastating impact on our planet.
Rape culture: Most people don’t think about how the dairy products we eat get to our plate – I know I didn’t before I stopped eating animals. We just think happy cows are milked and we benefit from their excess milk! Well, I’m sorry to have to say that cows don’t naturally produce milk at all times. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Cows are like humans in that mother cows only produce milk when they’re pregnant and when they have baby calves nursing, just like human mothers. The rest of the time, they’re not producing milk. So, how do the factory farms deal with the dry spells when dairy cows aren’t producing milk? They use something called a “rape rack” and essentially rape the male cows to collect their semen and artificially inseminate the female cow, without consent (since animals can’t give consent) and impregnate the mother cows… over and over and over again. These mother cows are given very little break in between pregnancies and are constantly being milked for human’s consumption. The treatment of these sentient beings is more than anyone stomach, when you watch the footage of these poor innocent creatures. Most female cows suffer from mastitis (horribly painful inflammation of their utters/nipples) which is the leading cause of death among adult cows in the dairy industry. So many aspects of this process are unjust and often not known about by humans. Take the initiative to know more about this barbaric system, we all are contributing to each day.
Malnutrition: When you hear the word malnutrition, you probably invasion a skinny, starving child in a foreign country. The sad truth is that there is a lack of nutrition all over our nation, right here in the United States, and it usually shows up in the form of obesity. There is a lack of education around eating well, and also a lack of accurate information about how the food we’re consuming affects our bodies. A common belief today, especially in the US, is that meat is good for us and we need it. How else will we get our protein?! We can’t live without meat, right? Well, the truth is: we can. And, we can live much longer without it! Diets high in animal protein have been found to lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. Studies have found milk protein to lead to tumor growth and other animal products to contribute to hypertension and obesity. So much of this information isn’t shared or known about because of how much power the meat and dairy industry have in this country. Nutrition text books, health studies, food advertisements and other health related publications are often paid for by this industry, and thus they have control over the information that is shared, and have the power to screw it towards encouraging eating animal based foods. The more we consume, the more money they make. The more addicted we are to these foods, the more control this inhumane and power-hungry industry has. Do you want to be a part of it? For more information about the impacts of animal products on our health, watch Forks Over Knives on Netflix. Here’s the trailer:
Whether you go vegetarian or vegan today, or you don’t ever eliminate meat from your diet, it’s important to know about where your food is coming from, who’s paying for the studies you’re using to educate yourself about nutrition, and how the animals are treated that you’re putting into your mouth. I don’t believe in “humane meat” and I don’t think there’s any ethical way to continue contributing to this industry, but no matter how you feel about it, take the opportunity to educate yourself about the environmental, ethical, and health impacts of this industry and the costs of continuing to enable this system that is unjust for endless reasons.
- Meet Your Meat (very short video on youtube)
- Forks Over Knives (netflix)
- Earthlings (Youtube)
- Cowspiracy (netflix)
- Vegucated (netflix)
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
- Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
- The Good Karma Diet by Victoria Moran
- Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran
- Proteinaholic by Garth Davis
Life and Success Coach
Founder of PlantEmpowered